Manufacturing companies are under pressure in many countries. Outsourcing to low-wage countries, consumer desire for customization, and disruptive technologies make it difficult to maintain a good business based on traditional production lines. Individualized offerings are simply too expensive and complicated to produce. However, Industry 4.0 is a way to deal with these challenges.
Industry 4.0 moves from centralized to decentralized
Although the concept of Industry 4.0 has many definitions, it can be understood as a targeted approach to address production complexities and turn them into opportunities.
Manufacturing is the new black
In contrast to many other industrialized nations, Germany has maintained a stable manufacturing labor force. This is largely due to the integration of new technology into products and processes.
Since 2006, the German government has been pursuing its “High-Tech Strategy,” a plan to maintain Germany’s strong competitive position through technological innovation, including industrial automation and robotics. In 2011, the term Industrie 4.0 was first used at the Hannover Fair to describe the effect of robotics on society after the steam power, mass production, and the information technology revolutions. Industry 4.0 has a strong support from academia, industry, and the government. Research and development across sectors has been present in Germany since the beginning.
“Made in China 2025” is the Chinese version of the Industry 4.0 plan, published by the State Council last year. The idea is to use advanced computing technology, the Internet, and big data analytics to transform manufacturing. China plans to focus on innovating in robotics, control systems, intelligent sensing components, and cloud platforms, as well as core aspects of industrial software. The Chinese government expects advances in the utilization of industrial data, which would effectively support the transition of manufacturing intelligence to a collaborative and intelligent industry.
Danes value flexible production
In Denmark, manufacturing is characterized by small and midsized enterprises (SMEs). Production companies represent two-thirds of the total exports and are important source of revenue for the Danish society. In February 2016, the Danish government launched a statement on growth and competitiveness in which Industry 4.0 is one out of three pillars. The report highlights the importance of more intelligent and flexible production based on increased automation, and more sophisticated robots.
European enterprises expect big data, robotics, and the industrial Internet of Things to enable them to produce more goods faster, more cheaply, and with fewer errors. Many Danish manufacturers already focus on flexibility and customization, and that is exactly what the concept of Industry 4.0 is aiming at.
Industry 4.0 speculation based on real robotics potential
Governments worldwide are focusing heavily on Industry 4.0 as a way to secure competitive production and a healthy manufacturing industry. The potential is enormous — McKinsey & Co. recently estimated that in Denmark alone, there are 35 billion DKK ($5.38 billion) in revenue, 23 billion DKK ($3.53 billion) in exports, and 10,000 new jobs to pick up between now and 2025.
However, a successful transition to Industry 4.0 presupposes that companies and governments are well prepared and aware of the new technological opportunities.
About the author:
Søren Tranberg Hansen is a special advisor on robotics and AI for Invest in Denmark under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has a master’s in computer science and IT from the IT University of Denmark and a Ph.D. in industrial robotics from Aalborg University and Georgia Institute of Technology. Hansen has a background as a consultant at the Danish Technological Institute working with research, product development, and fundraising. He is also the author of a popular scientific book on robots.
More on Industry 4.0 and Global Robotics Adoption:
- Why Robot Law Around Industrial Automation Varies Worldwide
- Denmark Is Driven to Lead European Robotics
- Rethink Robotics Expands German, Chinese Distribution
- Robots Largely Unaffected By China’s Malaise
- Robotics Takeaways From CES 2016
- High-Flying India: 7.4 Percent GDP Growth and Very Robot-Ready
- German Robotics Targets New Horizons
Meet the Author at RoboBusiness Europe
Søren Tranberg Hansen will be speaking at RoboBusiness Europe from June 1 to 3, 2016, in Odense, Denmark. “It is interesting to see how companies and governments all over the world are working on finding ways to ensure competitiveness and growth,” said Marianne Andersen, CEO of RoboBusiness Europe. “This year, Søren Tranberg Hansen will give us an overview of some of the initiatives happening globally as well as in Denmark.”